by Mark Gillins
JLA: Created Equal
Imagine a world where only one male exists among hordes of women. To the average single guy this would be heaven, right? Oh, yeah, and here's the catch: You're dead. That one surviving man is Kal-El, the sole male citizen of Earth to survive a universal plague that kills all men wherever it settles. Superman's Kryptonian biological structure leaves him immune to the disease while every Earthling wife (with the exception of Lois Lane) is left a widow and governments all over the planet seek female leaders for replacements. A new JLA is formed, a world capital is placed on the island of Themyscira, and doubts on the future of the 3rd rock from the sun arise.
One of the best Elseworlds stories I've ever read, entitled "JLA: Created Equal", follows this interesting plot in two issues. The first issue is especially an eye-popper as Superman is left with deciding how exactly to replenish the Earth, Barbara Gordon walks again with the use of the Green Lantern ring, and Lex Luthor, barely having escaped the disease by enclosing himself in a robotic suit, plots revenge on the world for so easily choosing to repopulate the Earth in his enemy's image.
Shortly after the impregnation of Lois Lane, Luthor comes out of hiding to reveal that Superman's Kryptonian powers are only magnifying the illness that had previously killed all of Earth's males, slowly sickening the women of the planet as well. A few tests verify the truth of his findings, and Superman regretfully leaves his wife, future son, and home planet in saddened fear of destroying everything he loves. Determined to find a cure for the disease, he ensues on a 15-year long journey into the black ness of space. It is a few months later that Kal-El's bouncing baby boy is delivered and left to be raised by Lois, Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazons.
The second issue begins a few years later as the entire Justice League gathers to fight a threat bigger than anything they've encountered to that point: Superman's five-year-old child. The poor kid is throwing buildings left and right, throwing a terrible fit and uncontrollably blasting things away with his heat vision. Not expecting the child's powers to come so early in life (or so strongly, for that matter), the JLA only manages to cease the child's frets by calming him down through gentle talking.
It is then that they learn the cause of the child's furious tears: The child had literally hugged his mother to death. Lois had apparently asked him for a hug and the child, not realizing his own strength, broke her spine in the process, unintentionally killing her.
Lex Luthor learns of this incident and uses it to his advantage. As the child grows he manipulates his dreams to his own will, creating nightmares of Kal-El returning to Earth to destroy his son for killing his wife. Similar dreams are had by the other children that had grown up with Superman's genes in the past 15 years, meant to cause steady rebellion and anxiety to serve another cause.
Superman returns to Earth with a cure around the time his son turns the age of 15. The only catch is the fact that the cure will rid normal men of the disease, but will not be able to penetrate Superman's physiology enough to do anything. Remaining on the moon at the JLA Watchtower for safety, he watches as his children grow more and more violent, eventually revolting against the people of Theymyscira and instinctively flying to the Fortress of Solitude where Luthor anxiously awaits them.
A terrific battle follows as Kal-El is torn by the decision of whether or not to interfere, as the disease he carries may do more harm than he can do good. Women fall right and left as the young Supermen wage war with the Amazons, and Luthor reveals a little surprise he found in Gotham City while wandering the cities.
I have very few problems with this story. It's an interesting concept that I've never really thought about before, and it gives all those politically correct freaks out there the opportunity to see their world have the chance to be run by women. A lot of emotion is intertwined as well: I felt REALLY sorry for Lois's poor kid when she was killed, almost as if I was watching the six o'clock news or something.
The art is simply fantastic!
While the second issue may be a little slower than the first, it still delivers a great plot and tons of "what-if's" that make you wonder why the writers of the regular DCU continuum don't do something like this as a summer crossover or even use some of the concepts (like Oracle's taking up of the Green Lantern mantle) in their stories.
I don't know, however, if I would have called this a "JLA" story. Sure, the JLA is reformed to contain 100 percent women, but the whole thing revolves around Superman and Lex Luthor. I felt like this was more of a Superman-revenge story than a JLA worldwide threat deal. Then again, I may never have bought the two issues if I would have realized how little it actually dwelt with our present team.
Ah, well. I give it a 7 out of 10. Minus a point for misconception in the title, minus a point for killing off the males a little too quickly (we don't even realize what's going on until it's over), and minus a point for being a little slow in the second issue.
All characters are DC Comics
This article is © 2000 by Mark Gillins.
All Characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2001 by Fanzing and the persons credited above.
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All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
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